The Ashanti Alert system for missing adults is making its way through the Virginia General Assembly
In February 2018, the House Appropriations Committee approved legislation proposed by Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) to create an Ashanti Alert. The Virginia Senate approved Ashanti Alert legislation in early March.
The bill, HB 260, creates the the new Virginia Critically Missing Adult Alert Program. Thanks to Ashanti Alert, law enforcement officials will be able to send a local, regional or statewide alert if they believe a missing person has been abducted and the “disappearance poses a credible threat” to the individual’s health and safety. The Ashanti Alerts will go to the media, who then could inform the public to be on the lookout for the missing adult.
Governor Ralph Northam signed the Ashanti Alert bill into law on April 6, 2018.
The need for more aggressive steps to find missing adults is a pressing concern in Virginia. According to the Capital News Service at Virginia Commonwealth University:
More than 240 adults are missing in Virginia, according to the Virginia State Police. In 2016, a fairly typical year, 14 names were added to the list. But last year, the list grew by 39 names — and so far this year, 17 more people in Virginia have gone missing.
Currently, Virginia authorities issue alerts and mobilize search resources only when people of certain ages go missing:
- If the person is 17 or younger, the state can issue an Amber Alert or an Endangered Missing Child Media Alert.
- If the person is 60 or older, the state can issue a Senior Alert, sometimes called a Silver Alert.
But Virginia hasn’t had an alert system to warn people to look for a missing adult between the ages of 18 and 59 — until now.